Press Conference by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida
Tuesday, February 4, 2014, 8:35 a.m. Prime Minister’s Office
This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only.
Unnatural Death of a Cabinet Office staff member
Imoto, TBS: A Cabinet Office staff member was found dead in Kyushu. As it is under investigation, I understand that you can hardly make comments on this. However, please tell us the facts you have learned so far.
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida: First of all, it is an extremely tragic event and is regretful. What I know is that the staff member studied in the U.S. and requested the Cabinet Office permission to attend a seminar in South Korea as part of his research, which was granted. Apart from that, please refer to the Cabinet Office for more details. At any rate, as it is under investigation, I have no more comments to make.
Imoto, TBS: I assume there will be cooperation with South Korea on the investigation. What are your thoughts on the further responses as MOFA?
Minister Kishida: I believe that we will continue to observe the situation of the investigation and other points and respond based on them. For now, we will observe the developments of the investigation. That is the current situation.
Imoto, TBS: Between Japan-Russia, a Vice-Ministerial meeting was held last week and I understand you attended the Foreign Ministers' Meeting. At the end of this week, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will engage in a summit meeting in Sochi. It will be aimed at reinforcing and improving the bilateral relationship. What do you expect from the summit?
Minister Kishida: Between Japan and Russia, last April Prime Minister Abe visited Russia for the first time in ten years, which was followed by four summits and the first "2+2" meeting in November. This year, recently the Vice-Ministerial Meeting was held and so was the Foreign Ministers' in Munich. The summit is scheduled for the future. I do hope to accumulate such bilateral high-level exchanges at a high pace. By doing so, we will reinforce the entire bilateral relationship and advance discussion on the issue of a peace treaty.
Mizuuchi, Sankei Shimbun: I assume that you will visit the U.S. at the end of this week. Various reports have been made as to whether President Barack Obama will come to Japan in April. If that is realized, I surmise that the Japanese side has various intentions, such as coordinating his schedule. When you go to Washington this time, how will you deal with coordinating the dates for the visit and other matters?
Minister Kishida: If circumstances allow, I intend to visit the U.S. this week and that is under coordination. In case that my visit to the U.S. is made and a Japan-U.S. Foreign Ministers' Meeting is held, as this year continues to be an important year for the Japan-U.S. alliance, with the review of the Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation on the table to begin with, I intend to confirm the outlook and other points concerning this year's Japan-U.S. relations at the meeting.
In this context, I assume President Obama's visit to Japan will be discussed, as it has yet to be scheduled at this stage and, therefore, nothing concrete has been set.
Issue of the name of the Sea of Japan
Imoto, TBS: Virginia House of Delegates in the U.S. passed a bill regarding the inscription of the ROK's name along with "the Sea of Japan." It is highly likely to be passed. What are MOFA's views on its responses in this regard?
Minister Kishida: In the first place, the Sea of Japan is the only internationally acknowledged name and the U.S. Government itself uses only the Sea of Japan.This is the current situation. I must continue to provide appropriate explanations on Japan's stance and on the right thinking on the name of the Sea of Japan.
I must refrain from speaking about specific moves of the Assembly in the U.S. However, I intend to continue to make an effort to deal with the issue accordingly so as to earn understandings of such matters while working hard.
Nakamura, Nippon TV: Flu is epidemic among Cabinet members. Has that been talked about in the Cabinet Meeting?
Minister Kishida: Of course, the topic came out. We told each other that we must be careful.
Nakamura, Nippon TV: Do you take particular precautions?
Minister Kishida: I have received a flu vaccination. Apart from that, I often wash my hands and gargle.